We take it for granted, living in the UK and having our local Tesco’s open on Sundays and even bank holidays. The sales start on Boxing Day – doors opening at 9 a.m. latest – whether or not you have the money to spend. But people on the continent aren’t always so lucky.
In France they like to work little, play hard and strike harder, where it hurts most. I mean, of course, industrial action. In France you will find the precious little amount of time left to work is being spent devising cunning plans to shorten it even more: plan a strike, invent a bank holiday.
To make up for it, their shops are usually open until 8 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve the tube is free for anyone, not like in the UK where the tube is dear and shops start pulling their shutters at 5 p.m.
If in the UK the winter break for students lasts until January the 9th, in France they start realise they have taken the game a bit too far and they have serious scruples about resuming work and university courses on the 2nd.
Written by Diana Popovici
Their neighbours, the Germans, take everything seriously. Holiday is an important time for the good average German. He must stock up with Gluhwein (mulled wine) and sausages for the impending festivities and he must be allowed to do so in his own time. So shops stay open until 8 p.m. and they are usually filled with people walking about and comparing in raised voices the qualities of some product over another.
In Germany, as well as in France, Sunday is the day of rest. Every God-fearing French of German person stock up their cupboards on Friday evening because they know once it’s the weekend, the shops will have reduced programmes or not open at all.
The German bureaucracy system is brilliantly devised so that any state institution has surgery hours for the public from 9 to 12, Monday to Thursday only. This allows pretty well-off Germans that have access to this kind of jobs to gloat from 1 to 8 p.m. at the less fortunate Germans that have to work in a shop. See how ingenious it is?
The students in Germany, like their British colleagues, are free until the 9th. Some decide to use their time bobbing their heads solemnly on the rhythm of the music at parties, while their British colleagues are probably engaged vegetating around the house, eating all their parents’ food and playing Xbox.
In the end, I prefer living in the UK, in a city where it’s pretty much lights off after 5 p.m. for the sole comfort of knowing that if I have a headache on a Friday evening, I don’t have to wait until Monday morning to be able to buy some pain-killers. And I think a lot of people my age can appreciate that.